Weblog Main

May 28, 2002

I can now update this

I can now update this blog by sms though I get an annoying tag added by the phone company that I need to remove. In Nina's university now.

October 11, 2002

A taste of wireless

I ordered a wireless card the other day from the uk and so I was excited to get a box in the post this morning. The first open wireless networks in Copenhagen have been started by a group called Organic Network, and so I installed the card, cycled into town with my laptop, and after a bit of playing around with my network settings, I'm sitting in a cafe writing this online! Nina and I are working on a project to set up some similar networks in the area, so I'll keep you up to date on progress. Have to get back to surfing now!

October 31, 2002

Better security for Wi-fi?

Joi Ito mentions that WECA are about to annnounce a new set of mechanisms to address the vulnerabilities in wireless LANs. This is interesting as we're just in the process of writing a report on wireless security and while wardriving for it we found that around 70% of wireless networks didn't even have basic security settings enabled.

November 4, 2002

New Nokia Phones

Nokia have just released details of a bunch of new phones, including a clever fold-out design. But best of all, I think, is the Nokia Observation Camera - set it up somewhere and it'll send its photographs wirelessly to your phone or email address. Coincidently, Nina and I were just talking about how we could get live pictures from the boat on Saturday, and we came to the conclusion that the technology wasn't quite there yet unless you hacked it together yourself.

November 23, 2002

Wi-Fi Security

Nina has just handed in the Wi-Fi security project that she's been working on for the last month, and a copy of it is here (word doc), though some of the names have been changed to protect the... insecure.

December 19, 2002

Ubiquitous Wi-Fi

Nina's been working on the feasibility of building out a large high-speed wireless network with one of the local councils as her university project this term. After a final 30 hour shift on it, she got home this afternoon, project in hand and collapsed into bed. Her group managed to prove that wireless networks can be economically built to provide fast internet access to large residential areas. Now we have to wait and see if the council is going to go ahead and develop some of the test areas. Next we're trying to get some people together in Menorca to get something similar started there.

February 6, 2003

Wi-Fi in Glasgow

After spending hours war-walking around Glasgow, I've finally found a cafe with wireless coverage. Unfortunately, it's Miss Cranston's Tearoom, and there's an old woman at the table next to me who just drank all the cream directly out of the jug on the table then tried to chat me up - "Are you from Glasgow? I can tell by your hair!" Glasgow doesn't have nearly as much wi-fi coverage as Copenhagen and there are virtually no cafes that are covered, so it's taken a bit of work to find this place.

Here's an interesting article...
Penises have higher bandwidth than cable modems

February 12, 2003

Wi-Fi Trains and Transportable Homes

Sweden continues to push wi-fi coverage forward with the world's first broadband train connection. Passengers from Gothenburg to Copenhagen will now have wi-fi access onboard for the entire journey for about $9.

Could this be the return of pre-built homes? The Rocio Romera vacation home will come pre-built for around $30,000. I'm a big fan of the Futuro house, designed by Finnish architect Matti Suuronen in the late 60's as a moveable holiday home - after all, who wants to live in the same place for the rest of their life? Unfortunately, the 1973 oil crisis forced up the price of plastic and only 20 were ever built.

February 18, 2003

Wi-Fi in Bristol

After some intensive war-driving this afternoon in Bristol city centre, I've found some nice wireless access at the top of Corn Street. Oh, and cheap coffee!

March 4, 2003

Chris's New Phone

down the pub tonight
Chris bought himself a Panasonic GD87 camera phone today so we've been down the pub using it tonight. Very cool, but it now forces me to upgrade my phone so that I can receive photos on it!

March 9, 2003

The Cloud

Inspired Broadcast Networks have just announced that they're building Europe's largest Wi-Fi network in some 20,000 locations in Britain. Called 'The Cloud', it'll have 250 sites by April and plans to be operating 1000 sites by this summer. Most of the locations will be pubs as they'll be piggybacking the network onto existing adsl lines that are currently being used for gaming machines. This looks set to revolutionise wireless access in the UK, and where better to have it than in the pub? Yet another reason to go drinking. BBC News Story

March 20, 2003

Bristol Wi-Fi

In my continuing efforts to encourage ubiquitous wireless access, I was talking to a couple of cafe owners in Bristol today about offering wi-fi for their customers. One of the cafes, Revival, is a really cool, laid-back place in the centre of Bristol which would be terrific if it had wireless access.

April 26, 2003

Palm Post

I'm posting this from a Palm Tungsten W at a big mobile tech roadshow in the centre of Bangkok with lots of new technology including Nokia's new observation camera. Bit of a hangover.

May 3, 2003

New wi-fi Palm

Palm have just announced some new models. A new Zire with a built in camera and the Tungsten C which, finally, has built in wi-fi. Still no virtual graffiti area yet but having used the Tungsten W last weekend I liked the keyboard and browser so this should be one very useable PDA.

September 14, 2003

Palm Tungsten C Breakage

Bugger. I've been using a Palm Tungsten C for the last couple of months... until last night when I took it out of my back pocket to wardrive a street... and the screen was broken. I guess with the casing being made out of plastic it must have twisted slightly in my pocket and the screen just went. I've been carrying Palms around for the last three or four years and it's the first major breakage I've had, which implies that the Tungsten C isn't quite as durable as it's older siblings. And the cost for a screen replacement from Palm... 175 euros! I was just finishing writing a long term review of it which I'll stick up here and will now also include the obligatory destructive test. Meanwhile I'll have to use my older but tougher m505 as a brain until I get it repaired. Spent last night somewhat pissed off, getting drunk and eating half a kilo of chocolate.

November 2, 2003


Bluejacking is the new craze of anonymously sending a message to a stranger's bluetooth enabled phone by writing it into the Address field and waiting for someone to pass with a bluetooth phone in a busy public place. i.e. "Name: I have bluejacked you. There is no escape" Should be a welcome change from wardriving.

05.11.03 BBC News story on Bluejacking.

November 8, 2003

New Phone

Well I finally got myself a new phone today after smashing up my Nokia 6210 on numerous occasions over the last years and continually waiting to see what Nokia would bring out next that might satisfy me. In the end I went for a Sony Ericsson P800 and so far it seems very, very nice.

November 12, 2003

P800 Complaints

I'm back in Bristol now staying with Chris and Berit and planning my next move. I've been uploading pics from my phone to the moblog and that continues to be working pretty well, though I find I'm liking my Sony-Ericsson P800 less and less every day as I discover just how badly they've designed the interface. There's unbelievably no t9 predictive text, it's impossible to do most things single-handed without getting the stylus out, it doesn't waken up for an alarm, and I keep accidently dialling people while I'm trying to do other things on the touchscreen.

When I was in Carphone Warehouse getting the faulty one replaced at the weekend, they'd just had a woman in who was in tears because she didn't like her new phone and wanted her old one back. I'm getting to that state.

December 20, 2003

Wi-Fi in Estonia

I sat down in a cafe in the centre of Tallinn and took my Palm out. There seemed no point in sniffing for wi-fi here in Estonia but I gave it a try anyway. Amazingly, there was a wi-fi access point in the cafe I was sitting in! It was protected, however, and required log-in details so I asked the girl on the counter how to buy credit for it. She told me that it works through sms authentication - you send a text message to the server and the cost of the log-in, a lovely 50p for 24 hours (less than 1euro), is debited from your phone account. Just typical though now that my phone wasn't working! She also told me about a free network that one of the hotels had in it's lobby - obviously does some war-driving herself! I went and checked it out but it was turned off, so I bought myself an Estonian sim card, sent a text, and I'm now enjoying a lovely, fast, cheap internet connection in Wayne's Cafe (Estonia pst. 3/5) on my Palm!

The hotspots are operated by Uninet, and are dotted around town in bars, cafes, even the heliport that handles flights to Finland. The authentication seems to be system-wide - logging in to one allows you access to the whole network for the whole day. Truly how wi-fi should work and cost.

January 6, 2004

Tech Acceptance

One of the impressive things about Finland is, of course, its mobile phone and tech culture and how it's readily accepted and used in everyday life. I spent yesterday in Helsinki and to buy a ticket for the metro, a bus, or ferry you simply send a text message and the amount is debited from your phone account. If you're a regular traveller you can buy a travelcard that, like in Hong Kong, works by inductance - just swipe your bag or wallet with it inside across the sensor and it's detected. No hunting for change or stamping ancient pieces of cardboard. You can purchase things from vending machines or in some cafes by sending a text, and it's quite normal to be able to send a text message to your home to turn the sauna on or check the temperature or security system. Even in the middle of the forest in the middle of nowhere the mobile coverage is so good that you get ISDN speeds (115kbps) over a data connection so you're never out of touch.

January 8, 2004

Nokia Observation Camera

Overcome with guilt for being in Finland and not having a Nokia phone, today I decided to buy a Nokia Observation Camera for the boat.

When it detects movement or you send it a text message, it takes a photograph and sends it to you by email or mms, allowing you to check up on things when you're not there.

January 23, 2004

Ibiza Wi-Fi

I got up early and caught the ferry into Ibiza today, spent a lot of time sitting around in cafes, then had a long lunch, and met up with a group of guys who are working on building up a free wi-fi network on the island, Club Ibosim.

At the moment they've got an access point on top of one of the hotels in San Antonio which beams the signal across the bay, though you really need an external antenna to pick it up right now. They also have an access point in Cafe Guay in San Antonio and some pcs there with free internet access so they're certainly doing their bit to provide internet access.

After quite a bit of war-driving, this is some of the first wi-fi I've found on Eivissa, and I plan to give them a hand to build up the network when I return here in the spring.

I walked past Cafe Del Mar, which the sun was setting beautifully in front of, but which, like most things, was closed for winter, and caught the last ferry back to Formentera.

February 24, 2004

Surviving the P800

Contrary to what the telecom companies try to tell you, gprs roaming doesn't work yet, so yesterday I bought a Thai sim card (from One-2-Call). Unlike when I was in Spain, where I spent days trying unsuccessfully, I've managed to get gprs working properly here so I can now update my moblog with pictures in real-time. I've thousands of proper photos from my digital camera that have piled up from recent trips, waiting to be photoshopped and uploaded to the site, but by the time I finally get around to working through them I'll have forgotten what they're pictures of. Must keep on top of things.

Though I still hate my Sony Ericsson phone (the P800, which insists on crashing every couple of weeks and re-formatting all it's memory as well as being awful to use), having a proper internet connection on a mobile makes things so much easier when you're travelling. Gone are the days of hunting for an internet cafe to check your mail and sitting there typing away for ages. Now I can check it anytime, and as it also runs the wonderful Opera browser I can pull up any information I want quickly from Google while I'm on the move. But even still, I've been very close to smashing this phone to pieces on many occasions. I was in a phone shop in Cornwall last month which said that everyone who'd ever bought the phone from them, apart from one person, had returned it because it's so bad.

June 11, 2004

Virtual Insanity

The more observant will have noticed that the picture from the boatcam hasn't changed once since it first appeared. Unfortunately, this is not because the view from the camera hasn't changed but because it's currently refusing to update the file properly on the site. It's a Nokia Observation Camera which I fitted in the winter so that I could easily keep check on the boat and it emails me pictures quite reliably most of the time. Given a bit of work I'll hopefully get it updating to the site soon with the view from the boat.

I haven't been able to email any new moblog pics either as my Spanish isp has inexplicably been bouncing any emails I send from their address and forcing me to dial in to the UK to send mail. Hopefully, this too will soon be sorted and I'll be able to offer a much more virtual experience.

June 14, 2004

Ibiza Wi-Fi

After weeks of suffering connecting to the internet by mobile phone at 9600 baud and horrendous cost, I've finally got a decent connection again. Club Ibosim is a group of people I met up with in the winter who are trying to put some free wi-fi access points into Ibiza and I'm in the main cafe they've covered right now in San Antonio, Cafe Guay, enjoying fast wireless access again. As well as wi-fi, they've also put a few pc's into the cafe so that anyone buying a drink can get internet access too. It's only about five minutes walk away from Cafe Del Mar, but already I can see myself spending more time here than staring at the sunset this summer.

October 13, 2004

Wi-Fi in Formentera

A bit of sniffing around the harbour here in Formentera when I arrived turned up quite a few wi-fi access points. So thankfully I can now go for a coffee here with my Mac and get online rather than the less attractive alternatives of gprs access or a long ferry trip to Ibiza for wi-fi.

So now that I've had a bit of time to myself and internet access I've finally got around to uploading some of the pictures from trips earlier this year. Namely those from Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Finland, Estonia, and Morocco.

All of them are on this index page.

October 14, 2004

Bluetooth T-Shirt

The University of Singapore seems to have developed a Bluetooth t-shirt. Apparently it detects if you're falling, and if so tells your phone, which in turn contacts your relatives to pass on the bad news. Guess it could also update your blog to say that you've met your end and won't be writing anymore - which could be handy. Guess you just have to make sure that the fall is high enough so your phone has finished sending the message by the point of impact (and broken phone, messy t-shirt).

Nokia really should have been the ones to come out with this, surely, with Finland having the world's highest suicide rate - they could have even re-cut the N-Gage ads to say, "this is where I fell off..."

January 19, 2005

Welcome to NokiaLand

The other day my satanically possessed SonyEricsson P800 mysteriously disappeared from my jacket pocket. So today, feeling like the freed ancient mariner, I went off to Helsinki to look for a replacement. The problem is that, being here in NokiaLand, everyone you pass seems to be a Nokia employee taking great pride in flashing their unreleased prototype Star Trek phones as they walk through department stores while I'm standing looking at something straight out of Space 1999.

January 24, 2005

New Nokia

nokia 6630
After some research and a little pressure from my Finnish peers, I went out in the snow and bought myself a Nokia 6630. Keen to try it out, I then dropped into a nearby Helsinki cafe to grab some lunch and plug it in to charge. Someone else obviously had the same idea, however, as when I walked over to the spare wall socket, there was a really slick looking Nokia prototype already charging there. There's nothing quite like that to make you feel your new purchase is out of date! I ended up talking to the guy who had it, though when I asked if I could take a photo of it, he quickly hid it in his jacket!

May 8, 2005

QR Codes

qrcode code for this site's url
One of the things I'd never seen before I went to Japan were strange blocks of black and white dots that seemed to be in lots of magazines and adverts there. Eventually, I found out that they were QR codes, or 2-dimensional barcodes.

These can hold up to 4,296 alphanumeric characters compared to the 12 digits that conventional (UPC) barcodes can hold. Many of the camera phones available in Japan are able to read these just by pointing the camera at them, and they then decode the data which often includes website addresses to click through to, or company information to store in the address book. This site will automatically encode any information, such as your contact details, into a QR code that can then be placed onto a business card or website. Up to 30% of the code can be damaged or obscured and it'll still work. It seems like a really good way to store and transfer contact information and they've been used in Japan for years - I'm just surprised that European phones aren't equipped to handle them.

QR codes Wikipedia page
QR code reader for Mac OSX in Japanese
QR code reader in java
UPC barcode reader for Symbian series 60 phones
Barcode designed as pizza graphic

August 9, 2005

Free Wi-Fi

It appears, now that it's summer, that we're slowly creating a computing community in the garden outside the flat here in Espoo by keeping our wireless internet open. I looked out of the window the other day to see a couple of guys sitting at a bench with laptops and when I took the dog out I spoke to them and discovered they were in fact using our network. I told them they were welcome to - after years of using other people's open networks when I've been travelling it feels good to give something back.

August 11, 2005

New iTunes Phone?

Could this scoop really be the long-awaited iTunes mobile?


August 18, 2005

Destructive Testing

Although I'm normally very careful with my gear I seem to have gone through a phase of destructive testing over the last 24 hours. Last night as I was happily cycling along a summery, green lane, I hit a big bump, my phone flew out of my handlebar bag, bounced along the tarmac, and spun along the road before finally coming to a stop. Basically, exactly the same thing as happened to me three years ago and I still haven't learned. Other than suffering from a lot of scrapes and scratches, however, it stayed in one piece, continued working, and seems to have accepted the fact that I occasionally abuse it.

Now today as I was cycling into Helsinki one of my panniers came off as I was crossing a road. Fortunately, it fell off on a pedestrian island, saving it from being hit by a car and thrown into the air. Unfortunately, it had my powerbook in it. I wasn't too worried, however, as I assumed it was safe inside it's big, padded Crumpler bag, which was inside the pannier. When I took it out to check it though I discovered that the Crumpler padding doesn't quite cover the corners of the laptop and one of the corners had taken a big dent. I hesitantly opened it up, as it had been asleep through the whole ordeal, and looked at the screen. It remained dark, but as I increased the contrast it sprung back into life, and seems, thankfully, to be fine. With a little bit of metalworking I managed to squeeze most of the dent out on a wooden table in a cafe, which gained me a few strange looks, and the damage is now hardly noticeable. Overall I'm very impressed with it and can't think of any other laptop that would have survived the impact without a gaping, plastic hole or death.

I shall now attempt to put an end to this period of destructive testing before I get run over by a steamroller or fall out of a plane. But, thumbs up to Nokia and Apple, and thumbs down to Crumpler until they address the flap cover inside their laptop backpacks.

Update: It appears my Powerbook damage is nothing compared to the abuse that some have endured and still work...
PowerBook G4 vs. SUV

January 6, 2006

Skype Wi-Fi Phone

NETGEAR-Skype-phone.jpgThis new Skype wi-fi phone from Netgear could just redefine what we carry around in our pockets. As long as there's wi-fi coverage you can make calls over Skype with it, no computer needed, avoiding international call charges. Over the last year I've completely stopped using my mobile for international calls and become a die-hard Skype convert. How long will it be before mobile handset manufacturers begin making Skype dual purpose phones?

Update 10 Jan... Ok, apparently if you've got a mobile that runs Windows Pocket PC you can already run Skype on your phone, and if it's got wi-fi too, you can make Skype calls for free. But is it worth suffering Windows for?